, June 24, 2013

Published on July 13, 2024

ALTERNATIVES [VIDEO]: The Interference Archive in Gowanus
by Ben Davis, June 24, 2013
originally published at

Earlier this year, we inaugurated a new column called “Alternatives,” specifically looking at art spaces that have been trying to rethink how art is presented today. The big museums, auction houses, and top-tier galleries grab a lot of attention, so this feature was our way of trying to be proactive about breaking out of that circuit.  There’s plenty of despair out there about the state of the commercial art industry — but what constructive alternatives are people working on? What success are they having, and what obstacles do they face?
Today, I’m launching a video version of the column, focusing on New York alternative spaces, broadly defined (because that’s where I happen to live). If you have suggestions of initiatives that you think are worth highlighting in future installments, send me an email at bdavis[at]
I first heard about the Interference Archive through activists associated with Occupy Wall Street. Founded in 2012, the Gowanus space has picked up on the energy that came out of that movement, and continues to be a hub of politically inspired art-making and discussion — currently, it’s hosting “Strike Then, Strike Now!,” an exhibition dedicated to graphics from the labor movement (on view through July 31). It has a unique model for sustaining itself, and focuses on a unique kind of cultural production, serving as a library for those looking for activists graphics. Consequently, it seemed a logical place to start for the new feature, and on a sunny afternoon two weeks ago, I sat down with the space’s Blithe Riley and Josh McPhee to talk about their project.